Friday, August 01, 2008

Where do terrorists come from?

We're in Oklahoma City tonight, home of the Redhawks, the Will Rogers Park and Horticultural Gardens, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.

It is also the home of the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum. Its tagline is "On American Soil". The home page and front history page tell the story of the bombing of the Murrah federal Building here in 1995, killing 168 people. It is a nice website, and I imagine the memorial itself is quite special.

A couple of mouse clicks down through the History menu options you will find one sentence on the bombing itself:
On the morning of April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a rental truck with explosives in front of the complex and, at 9:02am, a massive explosion occurred which sheared the entire north side of the building, killing 168 people.
There are 13 more references to McVeigh, most in the first person remembrances, but that's the only "official" mention. There are 30 references to "terrorist" and 62 to "terrorism". The Memorial has become a center for the study of the "impact of violence" the futility of using violence to affect governments, and "the importance of personal responsibility". Fair enough: the mission is broader than the tragedy that inspired it.

That said: one narrative reference to the terrorist, McVeigh, an Anglo-American. One narrative reference to "domestic terrorism". And 22 to this being a terrorist attack "on American soil". That is, if you missed the reference to McVeigh, and the one to "domestic terrorism", you could easily assume that this was a foreign attack on a national landmark. Even though, of the 335 incidents of terrorist acts in the US logged by the FBI between 1980 and 2000, 250 (75%) were committed by American citizens.

As we crossed the border from Texas to Oklahoma, Heather and I commented that we didn't know much about Oklahoma. Heather knew about Oklahoman Indian branches on her family tree. I knew of the Cheyenne and the Cherokee. We both knew the Rodgers and Hammerstein 1943 musical. And we both remembered the Oklahoma City bombing.

To the dead and the survivors, we remember you.
We remember too that violence and terror live not-so-deeply in our fallen souls.
And we remember that all acts of terror are on domestic soil, all are against our people, for we are all "part of the main", and potential immortal citizens in the Kingdom.


Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl said...

Interesting post...

And as an almost complete's one more fact about Oklahoma: your music minister was born in Ft. Sill, OK back in 1979. I remember it being hot. It probably still is.

Safe travels to you!

Trent said...

Sometimes when an event strikes close to home you want to believe that it is bigger than you. If that is difficult you want to believe that its effects are bigger than you, and if that is not possible we are left with a randomness that is difficult to fathom. I think that this may explain why the mission is broader than the event.

I agree that the goal and purpose of the Oklahoma City bombing had little to do with the "war with terror" we are invoved in now, but for those who were involved, it must somehow be used for good.

An Oklahoman